Case Study: End of Life Decisions
The case scenario is about Mr. George, an attorney and a lecturer who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is a degenerative disease that affects the central nervous system. George understands that this disease has no cure and that the current treatment just slows down progression. This disease causes loss of muscle power and control, thus resulting in loss of mobility, involuntary breathing, and even speech. George contemplates these symptoms and has asked about the possibility of euthanasia due to inevitable debilitating symptoms and death. This paper aims to explain George’s interpretation of suffering in the Christian worldview and provide my view of George’s position.
Religious Interpretation of Suffering
Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are contentious issues in the contemporary world of ethics, religion, and legislation. Pain and suffering can drive an individual to contemplate assisted death. However, there are jurisdiction laws, practice ethics, and religious worldviews that govern and determine these decisions. Some countries have legalized euthanasia, while others are totally against it (Grove et al., 2021).
In the United States, a few states, such as Washington DC, Vermont, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, and California, have legalized assisted dying. The Christian worldview also presents segregated stands regarding euthanasia and suffering (Choudry et al., 2018). Therefore, George’s suffering and request for euthanasia could be interpreted in varied ways.
Christian Worldview on Suffering in Light of Fallenness of the World
In the Christian worldview, suffering is a result of sin from God, resulting in the fallenness of man and the world. Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:21 demonstrated sinning against god as the cause of suffering in the world. Humans suffer because they live in a broken world. Sin is a result of an abuse of freedom that God gave to man and lures man into opposition against god. Therefore, afflictions from diseases, deaths, and other pains are ways in which humans are meant to pay for their opposition to God.
Whether directly or indirectly, humans have to endure suffering because they live in a broken world. Another biblical perspective of pain and afflictions describes suffering as God’s way of disciplining man. This discipline, as stated in Hebrews 12:6–1, is to make man more fruitful. In the Christian worldview, George’s suffering can be seen as a result of his life in the broken world. Therefore, his suffering is a reality in this world and stems from the fallenness of man.
Christian Worldview on Suffering in Light of Hope of Resurrection
Despite the suffering from the fallenness of the world, God expressed his love by sending Jesus to save man from suffering from sin. From a Christian perspective, Jesus’ teachings and death on the cross signify hope for resurrection and the ability of man to rejoice in suffering. The biblical teachings emphasize that God understands and sympathizes with the man for his sufferings.
The Bible reminds men that Jesus is always there with them in their suffering. Therefore, man does not have to endure suffering alone. Jesus’ teachings and suffering reassure Christians and true believers that man’s earthly sufferings are temporary. Enduring these sufferings prepares man for joy and transformation in eternal life (Grove et al., 2022). Paul’s letters to Corinthians, Romans, and Peter as written in 2 Corinthians 4:17–18; Romans 8:18; and 1 Peter 1:6; 5:10, human suffering is not in vain but in the hope that we will rejoice in the life after.
In Paul’s messages, God uses suffering to mold and sharpen man for life after the resurrection. In Revelation 21:4, God promised man hope at the end of all suffering if they receive salvation as Jesus offered. In Paul’s better to the Romans (Romans 8:28), the bible reminds believers that sometimes God uses suffering for his fruitful purposes.
The belief in resurrection and new life after suffering should, therefore, stay alive in those who endure suffering in the creator’s name (Compelling Truth, n.d.). Therefore, these biblical perspectives of suffering and different afflictions encourage man that there is light at the end of the tunnel and promote their endurance that even if they die, there is a promised joyous life.
The interpretation of George’s suffering in the light of the hope of resurrection depends on his faith and belief in life after suffering. In the Christian worldview, George should not see his suffering as the end of life but as a period of temptation or God’s call to prepare for life after the resurrection.
The promise that suffering is part of the human life journey should remind George that God is with him and that he is being molded and prepared for life after the resurrection. St Luke’s gospel reminds believers that suffering is not the end but a means to rebirth and resurrection. In his faith, he should understand that suffering is in itself a realization of human destiny – resurrection and life after this life.
Christian Worldview and Value of Life
Life is considered precious by almost all religions in the world. The gift of life from the almighty is priceless and should be deemed so by every being. In the Christian worldview, God created man in His own image and gave him life. Therefore, no one is allowed to take this life at whatever cost or circumstances. Most Christian denominations teach about the sacred nature of human life regardless of the innocence of the individual. Being a gift from God, life should be respected and treasured by all humans.
The sacredness of human life and by virtue of being God-given, a man, by extension, shares God’s own life. This is argued because, biblically, a man was created in God’s image. In this case, the essence of God’s image suggests that humans have the capacity to reason and always want what is good regarding the life they share with God.
Before deciding on his life, George should consider certain values that the Christian worldview attaches to human life. Most Christian churches agree with the view that human life is the most precious gift God gave to humans, and from conception to late adulthood, only God can take it.
Love is a value that Christians attach to human life. God gave man life out of love for man. Therefore, man has an obligation to preserve it regardless of the individual’s wishes. Most Christian denominations do not permit men to take their lives even if an individual is dying or suffering from an incurable disease. Recognition of the dignity and worth that Christianity accords human life should guide George’s decision-making in these times of afflictions from an incurable disease.
Christian Worldview and Euthanasia
Generally, Christianity is against euthanasia and assisted dying. Euthanasia, regardless of the patient’s request, can be considered murder against the teachings from the book of Exodus 20:13. God is the sole creator and terminator of life. This, therefore, limits the human to decide on life and death issues. It is solely the act of God who provides man with the ability to breathe, have a beating heart, and brain to think. Therefore, George would consider the divineness of life before opting for euthanasia.
Opting for euthanasia would override God’s will and authority over life and death issues. George should also consider the uniqueness of man among God’s creations. The man was accorded a special life and capabilities, making him have supreme value over other creations. Human life is, therefore, in itself a value that must be kept sacred by all beings. George should, therefore, ensure that regardless of the outcome of his disease, his life as a human is a special value that God anticipates consequences upon those who decide to take it. Taking a human life is prohibited by God and biblical teaching.
However, some Christian teachings, especially the Methodists and Lutheran churches, allow for liberal ideas about euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. These recent developments are a source of controversy in the Christian worldview of values of life. Nevertheless, the general Christian worldview accords human life as a special value that God only has power over.
Morally Justified Options for George
The contemporary practice would dictate that ethics determine the decision-making regarding patient care. Principles that would guide decision-making in George’s case include respect for autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice. Therefore, in an ideal and typical care decision-making, George wished to be respected to ensure respect for his autonomy.
However, observing non-maleficence would mean overlooking respect for autonomy, thus denying George euthanasia. This dilemma would require a collaborative approach to come up with the best care plan. A third option available for George is to provide life-sustaining care, including palliation at a time when his natural death will occur. This is George’s morally justified option because it adheres to the non-maleficence and beneficence principles of bioethics.
Palliation, in this case, would mean providing assisted ventilation and assistance with daily living activities. Even though assistance with activities of daily living is the worst fear for George, he needs to understand that at one point in life, due to old age, he would need to depend on them.
Therefore, another option alongside palliation would be clinical psychological counseling before making the final decision. This option will remain the best option if the family is involved in his care (Moale et al., 2019). George is an attorney, and I believe his judgment is sound and backed by his academic, social, and legal principles. However, his family also has a stake in his life. Their emotional health depends on George remaining alive.
The divineness of human life and respect for bioethics would provide me with a few options in my position as a care provider for George. However, in George’s position, it would be difficult to come to terms with the diagnosis, and after going through the normal process of grief by the five stages of grief by Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler, I would have to make a final decision.
In George’s position, I would opt for palliative care to sustain my life to such a time when the available treatment would no longer be sustainable for my family. Having undergone these stages, I would understand the pain of grief and thus would not want my family to experience these stages acutely due to euthanasia. Their knowledge that my death was not natural but physician-assisted could take a different trajectory in their mental health. Family is the basic social unit that significantly defines our health and cognition. Opting for euthanasia without their input, opinion, or participation would hurt them more than staying alive a little longer to make the process of grief gradual and thus less painful.
George’s situation presents legal, ethical, and religious dilemmas that clinicians face in caring for patients in their terminal stages of life. The general Christian worldview treasures life because it is God-given and thus sacred and divine. Therefore, George would not be allowed to opt for euthanasia in the light of Christian values. Christianity argues that suffering is a result of human sins, but this does not warrant humans taking their lives or the lives of others, as this would override God’s authority and wishes. The option available for George, apart from euthanasia, is to continue his life under life-sustaining care, including palliative care. This is the same option I would opt for if I were in George’s position.
Choudry, M., Latif, A., & Warburton, K. G. (2018). An overview of the spiritual importance of end-of-life care among the five major faiths of the United Kingdom. Clinical Medicine (London, England), 18(1), 23–31. https://doi.org/10.7861/clinmedicine.18-1-23
Compelling Truth. (n.d.). What is a biblical perspective on suffering? What does the Bible say about suffering? Compellingtruth.org. Retrieved August 16, 2022, from https://www.compellingtruth.org/Bible-suffering.html
Grove, G., Hughes, I., Lovell, M., & Best, M. (2021). Content analysis of euthanasia polls in Australia and New Zealand: words do matter. Internal Medicine Journal, 51(10), 1629–1635. https://doi.org/10.1111/imj.15377
Grove, G., Lovell, M., & Best, M. (2022). Perspectives of major world religions regarding euthanasia and assisted suicide: A comparative analysis. Journal of Religion and Health. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-022-01498-5
Moale, A. C., Rajasekhara, S., Ueng, W., & Mhaskar, R. (2019). Educational intervention enhances clinician awareness of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic teachings around end-of-life care. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 22(1), 62–70. https://doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2018.0077
Case Study Instructions: End of Life Decisions
Assessment Description The practice of health care providers at all levels brings you into contact with people from a variety of faiths. This calls for knowledge and understanding of a diversity of faith expressions; for the purpose of this course, the focus will be on the Christian worldview. Based on \"Case Study: End of Life Decisions,\" the Christian worldview, and the worldview questions presented in the required topic Resources you will complete an ethical analysis of George\'s situation and his decision from the perspective of the Christian worldview. Provide a 1,500-2,000-word ethical analysis while answering the following questions: How would George interpret his suffering in light of the Christian narrative, with an emphasis on the fallenness of the world? How would George interpret his suffering in light of the Christian narrative, with an emphasis on the hope of resurrection? As George contemplates life with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), how would the Christian worldview inform his view about the value of his life as a person? What sorts of values and considerations would the Christian worldview focus on in deliberating about whether or not George should opt for euthanasia? Given the above, what options would be morally justified in the Christian worldview for George and why? Based on your worldview, what decision would you make if you were in George\'s situation? Remember to support your responses with the topic Resources. Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center. An abstract is required. This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion. You are required to submit this assignment to LopesWrite. A link to the LopesWrite technical support articles is located in Class Resources if you need assistance.